Advice,  Couples

Dating at King’s Can be Hard: A Conversation with Daniel + Shannon

Shannon said she would never date a Reagan. Now she’s engaged to the only man she ever dated at King’s.

And he’s a Reagan.

Meet Daniel + Shannon! This past week I had the privilege + pleasure of speaking with them about a number of different topics + I’m so excited to share. These are two people I’ve watched from afar for the past four years (though Shannon + I do share some memories of dancing at Fall Retreat + in a Capstone project together [which, I’m sure, bind us for life]) + it was a joy to finally get to know them a tiny bit better. They’re so full of wisdom for being as young as they are + it doesn’t hurt that they have a CUTIE puppy as well (Gwen, if you read this, I love you). Also, their couple name is DANNON, like the yogurt. I can’t get over it.

Graduation Year(s): May 2021 (Daniel), December 2020 (Shannon)

Majors: PPE + JCS (respectively)

Houses: Reagan + SBA

Total relationship length (so far): 2.5 years

I started by asking them how they met. The answer: their sophomore year Fall Retreat (a classic) when Shannon tried to set Daniel up with one of her friends. Thankfully, that didn’t work out! But it wasn’t immediately smooth sailing. Shannon explained how – prior to this point – she had been influenced by house stereotypes. Upon her arrival at King’s, she recalls people telling her, “Everyone hates Reagans. That’s just what they do.” She’d also been told that every SBA dates a Reagan at some point + so, quite naturally, her response was, “I’ll never date a Reagan.” Luckily, when the time came, she was willing to set aside the vow she’d so vehemently made.

Shannon recalled how she had remarked to her friends a short while before meeting Daniel that she wouldn’t go out with someone unless they explicitly asked her out. No funny business. Enter Daniel who swooped in + completed the holy trinity of a solid date inquiry:

  1. He dm’d her for her number
  2. He sent her “Fallingforyou” by The 1975
  3. He asked her out on a date

And Shannon said yes. Good work, Daniel! They’ve been dating ever since their Fall Retreat encounter +, this past October, got engaged. The two of them currently live in Alaska & will get married later this year.

From here, we conversed about a lot of different subjects concerning King’s, dating, & relationships at large. I wish I could just copy + paste our entire conversation, but here’s one of the biggest things we talked about:

Their hot take: Dating at King’s is hard. And it’s not.

There are some things we can all agree on when it comes to King’s. Word spreads quickly. Expectations are high. These things don’t disappear when you start dating someone + can more often than not exacerbate. So it’s important to learn how to healthfully deal with the unique challenges that King’s presents us with as couples as well as students. Daniel + Shannon have been through it + had a lot of good thoughts.

We first talked about the general atmosphere surrounding relationships at King’s. Shannon recalled that when they first started dating, some students paid them no mind while others would comment or give their input, + a few even started to treat her differently. House members immediately began to talk of “ring by spring.” Teachers – ones they weren’t even close to – would mention it to them. “It almost feels like you’re in the spotlight + everyone’s watching your every move. It feels like a TV show.” Shannon said. Daniel gave this assessment of the situation:

I feel like everyone at King’s likes to have the right answers because we’re a very scholarly school. So everyone’s got an opinion on how best to date someone or what’s appropriate in dating. I didn’t want that brought into our relationship, so I didn’t talk about it except with my close friends.

When asked if they thought dating at King’s was hard, their response was somewhere in the middle. Shannon remarked, “I think it can be hard but it’s also not. You can give into ‘being a couple’ as your identity + you can say, ‘I’m going to listen to what everyone says.’ You can make your circle huge + let everyone know your business + that’s when it can be hard. Or you can make your circle small + say, ‘These are the people I’m going to share with.’ You have to make the conscious decision from the beginning to not tell everyone everything.” Daniel added, “Limit who you allow to give input into your relationship. It’s healthy to have people giving you counsel.” But not too many is the unspoken addendum.

I mentioned the overwhelmingly negative impression that I believe we give to first years concerning King’s dating + the mood that seems to permeate an overwhelming amount of conversations on the subject. Shannon said, “Yeah, you hear what first years are being told about King’s dating + you’re like, ‘Wow, that does sound horrible!’ But as someone who’s actually gone through dating someone at King’s,” she said, “most of the time the people who say those things are people who heard it from someone else who heard it from someone else who heard it from someone else way long ago where there was maybe one year when dating at King’s was hard.”

We also discussed how important it was to keep your identity as individuals outside of the relationship. One of the most striking yet simplistic things Daniel said that I think really cuts to the heart of the issue is this: “Our relationship wasn’t the center of attention.” A healthy relationship is one in which you aren’t isolated from others + that isn’t the focal point of your life. He advises, “Don’t let your relationship be everything. Don’t close yourself off.”

The middle ground that seems to emerge from this conversation is to keep your relationship centered on the two people in it but keep your lives centered around a holistic experience, filled with all types of people that you love. There seems to be a distinction that needs to be made at King’s between having a healthy community that can speak life-giving words into your individual lives + relationship + having an unhealthy one that takes into consideration the opinions of everyone. The former is constructive, the latter destructive.

But it’s not all so serious! I also asked what their favorite thing about King’s dating was. Shannon liked having Daniel around when she worked for the Empire State Tribune (EST), + they affectionately referred to him as the EST Boyfriend. She said, “I liked having someone there that made me proud.” (It was at this point that I almost cried during the interview.) Daniel added that being in the same class with your SO can also be a valuable experience: “If you share classes, you can see your partner in a context outside of just your relationship. How do they treat people? How do they treat learning? Do they work hard?”

The last question I asked them – prompted by popular demand (thank you Graeme + Holly) + asked much to my chagrin – was if they had ever kissed in the Lion’s Den. “I don’t know, maybe once when it was the Reagan war room,” Daniel said. “We weren’t lion rats.” (Which is how I will now be referring to anyone who habitually inhabits the Lion’s Den.) “And you can publish that,” he said. I am, Daniel.

I hope you enjoyed the chat I had with Daniel + Shannon as much as I did (+ go find a picture of their dog, it will make your day better, I promise)! Feel free to leave a comment, follow us on Instagram, + – as always – let us know what topics you would find most helpful + who you want us to talk to.

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